Mental shift

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Bishop says the “worm has turned” after Indian Christians attack Hindu

Posted by jytmkh on September 27, 2008

Bishop Nazir-Ali appeals for Christian restraint in face of Hindu violence

Beleaguered Christians in India have “run out of cheeks to be struck” a senior Anglican bishop declared yesterday, on hearing reports that a Christian mob had hacked a Hindu to death in the troubled state of Orissa.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, called for peace, and said that the murder, conducted by a knive-wielding mob of 50 Christians, could not be condoned. But he told The Times: “For months now, scores of Christians have been killed, homes, convents and presbyteries have been burnt down to the ground.”

He said: “Now one Hindu has been killed, allegedly by Christians. We do not know under what circumstances but it suggests that the worm has turned and the Christian community has run out of cheeks to be struck.”

Appealing for an immediate end to the violence, Dr Nazir-Ali added: “As Christians, we must ask our brothers to remain as peaceful as they have during the recent provocation. We must ask, however, when justice will be done and when these people, under severe pressure, will be allowed relief.”

Thursday’s murder was one of two outbreaks of sectarian violence on the same day in the East Indian state of Orissa. According to police, 27 people died in Thursday’s violence. In a second attack, 500 Hindus burned and attacked Christian homes and two parish halls, causing local Christians to flee. No one died, but hundreds of Christians are said to be living in the jungle, having already abandoned their homes, as a result of the ongoing violence, which began on August 24th after the killing of a Hindu religious leader. On Thursday, the Indian Government appealed to the federal Government to halt the violence.

Yesterday Bishop Nazir-Ali accused the state government in Orissa of being “completely ineffective”, explaining “Christians from other parts of India, let alone elsewhere, have not been allowed by the State authorities to bring relief to the afflicted and the Federal Government has been paralysed.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali said that several weeks ago he had offered his assistance to the UK Government for a peace and factfinding mission to Orissa. “Neither the Foreign & Commonwealth Office nor the Commonwealth Secretariat have taken up this offer,” he revealed yesterday, adding: “Will the Indian Government now allow outside observers to see for themselves what has happened and what can be done about it?”

The bishop also denied claims by hardline Hindu groups in Orissa who say that Christian missionaries bribe or force Hindus to convert and are thus to blame for the recent violence. He said that Indian Christian missionaries working in the area had brought education, medicine and community assistance “to untouchables and tribals well beyond the pale of Caste Hinduism. Is it for this ‘crime’ that they are being punished?” he asked.

“The aim of their work has been service to their fellow human beings but love elicits love and if some people are becoming Christians, of their own free will, is this so unacceptable in secular and democratic India?

He called on the Indian Government to rein in extremist Hindu nationalists involved in the violence, saying: “The Government of India has a solemn responsibility to prevent violence, particularly against Muslims and Christians, by extremist Hindu nationalists. Now is the time to act and to clear this stain on the fair home of India.” (Timesonline)

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